Dani Pedrosa has been forced to wait until 2009 to claim his first Bridgestone MotoGP victory after watching Casey Stoner edge away from him during Sunday's Valencia season finale.

The Repsol Honda rider came into the event having won the two previous Spanish rounds - albeit on Michelin tyres - and seeking to improve on the two wins per season that he has now recorded in all three years of MotoGP competition.

Pedrosa's chances looked good when he got yet another scorching start to blast past Stoner into turn one, but the Ducati rider retaliated at the next corner. Stoner then pulled slightly away with every lap, while Pedrosa steadily increased his advantage over third position.

Dani finished 3.390sec behind Stoner and 8.804sec clear of world champion Valentino Rossi. By beating Pedrosa, Stoner - who had already secured second in the world championship in front of the Spaniard - handed Ducati second in the constructors' championship over Honda.

"I am happy with second place today. I pushed Casey as hard as I could but he had something a little extra and he managed the gap very well," confessed Pedrosa, who rode in a special retro Repsol livery. "We worked hard all weekend, so my thanks to my team and also to Repsol, the bike I rode today was one of the best-looking bikes I've ridden. The crowd was great, it was fantastic to see so many fans here, packing the grandstands and obviously really enjoying the spectacle and pushing us along."

Pedrosa began the 2008 season injured and did further damage when he fell from the lead of a wet German Grand prix, round ten of 18, a mistake that also cost him the world championship lead.

Nevertheless, Dani battled back to end the year with two wins, ten podiums and third in the championship - despite withdrawing from the US GP due to his Sachsenring injuries, then falling on lap one of the Australian Grand Prix.

Reflecting on the year, Pedrosa admitted his switch from Michelin to Bridgestone tyres after round twelve at Brno had generated plenty of criticism, but was happy with how he has finished the season.

"Overall, I am happy with the last few races, because we were able to come back from a difficult period during the middle of the season. We changed tyres and I came in for some criticism, but finally we got back on the pace at the last few races, running close to the front in the wet and in the dry," said the 2007 title runner-up.

"It hasn't been the easiest of years. I broke my right hand during pre0season testing, I broke my left hand in Germany and I injured my left knee at Phillip Island. These injuries caused me to lose my rhythm and they interrupted our development work, while everyone else was racing and improving their bikes. I have had to push really hard to come back from all these injuries.

"Tomorrow we start testing for 2009 - I am looking forward to it because things are going well now. I hope to have a good off-season and stay healthy," he concluded.

"Today was very difficult because Casey was so fast," stated team manager Kazuhiko Yamano. "Dani did a good job, taking second position in the last race. During the race we gathered plenty of data which will be useful in our preparation for 2009, which begins here tomorrow, with two days of testing. My thanks to Dani and to all members of the team staff for all their hard work this season."

Pedrosa will be joined at Repsol Honda by Andrea Dovizioso next season. Nicky Hayden finished fifth during his final ride for Repsol Honda on Sunday.



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